Respiratory acidosis

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Respiratory acidosis

  1. 1. Respiratory acidosis<br />Respiratory acidosis is a condition that occurs when the lungs cannot remove all of the carbon dioxide the body produces. This disrupts the body's acid-base balance causing body fluids, especially the blood, to become too acidic.<br />Causes<br />Causes of respiratory acidosis include:<br />Diseases of the airways (such as asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease), which send air into and out of the lungs<br />Diseases of the chest (such as  HYPERLINK "http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000076.htm" sarcoidosis), which make the lungs less efficient at filling and emptying<br />Diseases affecting the nerves and muscles that "signal" the lungs to inflate or deflate<br />Drugs that suppress breathing (including powerful pain medicines, such as narcotics, and "downers," such as benzodiazepines), especially when combined with alcohol<br />Severe obesity, which restricts how much the lungs can expand<br />Chronic respiratory acidosis occurs over a long period of time. This leads to a stable situation, because the kidneys increase body chemicals, such as bicarbonate, that help restore the body's acid-base balance.<br />Acute respiratory acidosis is a severe condition in which carbon dioxide builds up very quickly and before the kidneys can return the body to a state of balance.<br />Symptoms<br />Symptoms may include:<br />Confusion<br />Easy fatigue<br />Lethargy<br />Shortness of breath<br />Sleepiness<br />Exams and Tests<br />Arterial blood gas (measures levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood; in respiratory acidosis, the level of carbon dioxide is too high)<br />Chest x-ray<br />Pulmonary function test<br />Treatment<br />Treatment is aimed at the underlying lung disease, and may include:<br />Bronchodilator drugs to reverse some types of airway obstruction<br />Noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation (sometimes called CPAP or BiPAP) or mechanical ventilation if needed<br />Oxygen if the blood oxygen level is low<br />Treatment to stop smoking<br />Outlook (Prognosis)<br />How well you do depends on the disease causing the respiratory acidosis.<br />Possible Complications<br />Poor organ function<br />Respiratory failure<br />Shock<br />When to Contact a Medical Professional<br />Severe respiratory acidosis is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical help if you have symptoms of this condition.<br />Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of lung disease.<br />Prevention<br />Do not smoke. Smoking leads to the development of many severe lung diseases that can cause respiratory acidosis.<br />Losing weight may help prevent respiratory acidosis due to obesity (obesity-hypoventilation syndrome).<br />Be careful about taking sedating medicines, and never combine these medicines with alcohol.<br />Alternative Names<br />Ventilatory failure; Respiratory failure; Acidosis - respiratory<br />References<br />Seifter, JL. Acid base disorders. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier. 2007: chap 119.<br />Update Date: 8/8/2009<br />Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Uni<br />

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